LHC 'Big Questions'
4) Why is the LHC underground? Is it because it is doing secret experiments that scientists want to hide away?
The LHC has been built in a tunnel originally constructed for a previous collider (LEP – the Large Electron Positron collider). This was the most economic solution to building both LEP and the LHC. It was cheaper to build an underground tunnel than acquire the equivalent land above ground. Putting the machine underground also greatly reduces the environmental impact of the LHC and associated activities.
The rock surrounding the LHC is a natural shield that reduces the amount of natural radiation that reaches the LHC and this reduces interference with the detectors. Vice versa, radiation produced when the LHC is running is safely shielded by 50 – 100 metres of rock.
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